I’ll never forget the first day of the spring 2003 quarter my freshman year at Central State University. Fall quarter began promising, but that winter quarter was a bear. The ice-cold cornfields in the Midwest broke me down. I was planning on telling my mother that I wasn’t coming back to CSU after the school year.
But on the first day of the spring quarter, God herself opened the curtains and let the sunshine rain down upon us. It was the day I was in the presence of the most beautiful Black people in one place I’d ever seen in my life. Although I’m from Cincinnati, OH, I chose to attend CSU because it is an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and it was also close to home. I had no real expectations for what or who I would find.
At the time, I didn’t know the people I would meet in college would become lifelong friends. It was an oasis of Black people that were my age, my peers! But I soon discovered that tucked off in a small dorm room was my one true love. Jennifer Marie Sheard and I were introduced during our Spring quarter of freshman year through a mutual friend.
Back in 2003, Jenny had a Nextel chirp phone, but I, on the other hand, didn’t own a cell phone. So, I had to call her all the time from my dorm room phone. She soon invited me to her all-girls dorm to meet after class, and we talked for six hours. It was love at first sight actually during our first hug. The first time we hugged each other, I was instantly hers.
But of course, I wasn’t ready to admit it just yet. We were only 18 years old and we were inseparable until she graduated. We had been together for three years, and it was a whirlwind romance, long-distance during summer breaks, but we lived together during the school year. After graduation, she chose a grad school in Ohio to be close to me, and foolishly I pushed her away because I wasn’t ready to get married and settle down.
I definitely had an idea of what I wanted out of life but no actual plan on how to move forward. During this time, I was living with my fraternity brothers. She decided she couldn’t wait around on me, and I didn’t want her to either, and in the fall of 2006, Jenny moved back home to Chicago. We stayed in contact for the next ten years, and fast-forward to this point; we unknowingly built the foundation of our marriage.
In 2016, we both planned a trip to D.C. to visit a mutual friend. This trip would be the reboot we needed to secure our forever by witnessing first-hand the true definition of real love by being in each other’s presence. A year later, I asked her to be my wife, and she happily agreed. Jenny packed up her things and moved back to Ohio so we could be together again.
We were married a few short months later and discovered three weeks after our wedding that we would soon become parents. Our daughter Poppy was the inspiration behind our family business! Following the birth of our daughter, we welcomed our baby boy. It took me 13 years to realize I met my best friend and soulmate when I was just 18 years old. One thing’s for sure; I’m so glad I went to CSU because this is where our love story first began. “For God, For Central, For State.”
Reflections by @dameforever